June 16, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Council interviews 5 applicants for Ward 7

7 min read
Carol Zorn, Barbie Walker, Lyndsie Leech, Dan Isaacson, and Janet Ayres explain why they stepped forward to represent Ward 7.

Five Ward 7 residents interviewed for the vacant city council position on Monday. From Z to A, here are two-minute summaries drawn mostly from their opening statements.

[00:00:10] Carol Zorn: My name’s Carol Zorn. I moved to Ward 7 in Eugene in 1988. So I’ve been there a few years. Used to be the trees grew over River Road and it was one way this way and one way that way. And so a tunnel of trees was beautiful.

[00:00:32] And the reason why we moved to Eugene was I got accepted to the U of O and I graduated with a theater degree. So with that under my belt we didn’t know what we were going to do here in Eugene, my husband and I And we became the independent Mac dealer here in good ol’ Eugene. So 25 years later we retired, sort of, kind of. But one of the things that we did do is we started doing foster care.

[00:01:04] So we did medically-fragile infant foster care. We had a son who been born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect, and he passed away. So we had gone through the worst part of what you could get. So our first baby in came to us with a heart defect and they told us she wouldn’t make it to two. Now she’s 23 and she’s had a heart transplant and doing very well. So, yeah, we’ve been through a lot of medical stuff that we never thought we would have to, and I’ve lived in River Road all this time.

[00:01:44] It’s so unique from any place I’ve ever lived. But something about Eugene: It’s home. It’s where I want to be planted. So that’s why we’re, I’m here.

[00:01:58] And there is something about the city council during the pandemic. You guys have kept me entertained (laughter).

[00:02:08] Barbie Walker: What I’m hoping to do today is, I guess, through your questions, kind of paint a picture of how my life experiences afford me, I suppose you could say, to wear many hats that I’m going to have to wear for Ward 7.

[00:02:22] You know, I, first of all, I really care about this community. I’m deeply rooted here in this community. I’ve been here since 1998, graduate of U of O, 2001. And I have businesses here in Ward 1, Ward 3. I lived in Ward 2 for 11 years. I’m really deeply engrossed in this community. I believe in it.

[00:02:38] And so I started out U of O and then I moved on to Junior League of Eugene, volunteering for foster and adoptive parents. And then we moved to at-risk youth, homeless youth, and the ABOLISH movement. Then the 15th Night, where I met all different people through the 15th Night, which led to the ID program, it’s great. It’s kids get to get their IDs, so they get their GEDs, so then they can get a job so then they get housing.

[00:03:03] And then I find myself on different executive boards. So now I’m the University District Business Association Board. ‘Hey, come join this.’ I just keep meeting other different people. Now I’m the board president. We want to start the West U Business District Association.

[00:03:15] And then, the city council comes up and so I want to be here and I know I can be here and I can represent the people of Ward 7 because of all these different things that have, and there’s so much more in between the ID program and being at the UDBA, University District Business Association, and that allows me to bring together Ward 7.

[00:03:36] Right now, I think there’s such a polarization politically, and when it starts at the top, at a federal level, it tends to trickle down to a state level, and then a city level.

[00:03:50] And how we go and move forward from that is lots of communication, lots of advocacy, wear those hats.

[00:03:56] And what I like to call it, I suppose you could say, is: Meeting people where they are. You’ve got to meet them where they are and hear them, and I think I’ve done that through volunteerism, providing advocacy.

[00:04:10] Lyndsie Leech: I’m Lyndsie Leech and I am the executive director of Well Mama, which is a nonprofit here in Eugene that serves people who are struggling with mental health conditions related to the reproductive period—so, pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety.

[00:04:30] I serve in multiple ways, of course. One of those is as a peer because it is a peer-run organization. And so having personally experienced postpartum depression and anxiety, I am certified as a peer support specialist, and I work every day directly with our clients to serve them and to help them recover as I was able to recover.

[00:04:52] In doing that, that is why I’m here. I understand that when you are in a mental health crisis, your voice is not heard at this level or, really, you’re just struggling, you’re drowning. And so I want to be that voice for parents who aren’t able to be in an environment like this and to come here and represent themselves.

[00:05:16] On the other level, I run the day-to-day operations of an organization. I deal every day with fiscal responsibilities and stewardship of funding that comes from donors, grant organizations, the state of Oregon, and other entities. So I deal with budgets and working with a diverse range of perspectives and people and stakeholders every day.

[00:05:41] And I represent all of those voices as I make decisions to run my nonprofit. So I have many lives in my hands every day that I represent—those of our clients, whose lives are really at stake in the services that we are providing them, as well as all of my employees who depend on me for their livelihoods.

[00:06:05] Dan Isaacson: This has been a long odyssey that for good or bad, has challenged all of us to examine issues beyond the recall and have been percolating in our city for quite some time.

[00:06:14] My conversations with hundreds of Ward 7 residents, confirmed by letters to the media, posted on social media and to you all, highlight an overriding theme. We need a councilor that will act on behalf of Ward seven residents at council, for sure, but more so that the chosen councilor is devoted to an equal amount of time to the business of public service, the low-hanging fruit the constituents expect from their elected officials.

[00:06:40] When someone logs onto a website—the gateway for the city services they expect and pay for—they’re logging on because the leaves haven’t been picked up, as Mr. Anderson needed on Rosetta Avenue, or because a sidewalk has been damaged and is now a hazard, as Mr and. Mrs. Aguilera point out on Merryvale Road, or because they need a building permit or because there’s an abandoned car that hasn’t been addressed and so on.

[00:07:02] This councilor needs to be expected to be laser-focused on the task at hand and helping and getting back to the fundamentals.

[00:07:09] I may not always be known for the by-the-book solution, but sometimes neighbors need a scrappy fighter who will get the job done.

[00:07:18] I want to be a councilor with all my heart. Five years ago, I didn’t know the extent of the mental health emergency our community was facing. The awful grace of trauma affords us an endless roadmap of our city’s challenges, and we can solve them if we have the courage to lean in. I’ve shared the lives of victims and survivors, patients and staff, members of our community. I’ve laughed with them. I’ve cried with them. This is what I want to do with my life.

[00:07:49] Public service was my pathway back from the abyss. It saved my life. It’s the reason I get up in the morning. It’s my opiate. The path for me was always getting the next gig so that I could continue to do this wonderful thing that I love.

[00:08:03] Janet Ayres: I’m Janet Ayres. My interest in the appointment of city council seat is that I like people and I like to be part of the solution or to bring that about if parties are engaged. I taught in my previous life. Oftentimes I did playground duty. And I think it’s fair to say that I was probably one of the most creative in dealing with playground disputes. I found it challenging and actually at times rather fun.

[00:08:37] We’re at a point I think with this city that there’s a lot of division. It seems very divisive and I think that with my background with teaching and social behaviors, I think I’m a well-versed candidate in that bringing people together even though they may have various ideas about how to do that, and I find it remarkably fulfilling to do so.

[00:09:03] My contributions would be simply that, in bringing people together and knowing it’s okay to possibly maybe have a difference of opinion, but to strive to bring it together, middle ground, or a way so that people can see that we’re more alike than not.

[00:09:22] And I welcome challenges. I like ’em. Some of my students were— the ones that I treasure the most—were the ones that were the challenges. And I’d go home. I, of course, I’d be in a knot. But by the time I laid my head on my pillow, those were the ones that brought the biggest smile to my face because they pushed me to use my tools as an educator to bring them to a delightful point in their life.

[00:09:54] So, I enjoy people and I’m looking forward to being part of a team to bring people together on issues.

[00:10:02] John Q: Ward 7’s next councilor will be appointed on Monday, Dec. 12.

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